Before social media and the internet revolutionized our world, telephone poles, bulletin boards, and street corners would be littered with “LOST DOG” posters. With the amount of runaway domestic pets on the streets, the shelters and rescue homes are overwhelmed and in need of relief. Instead of contributing to the problem, avoid losing your beloved pet by considering the safety measures you can take to help keep your pup at home!
How To Avoid Losing Your Pet
Some dog breeds are bona fide escape artists, and if left alone in a yard long enough, can effectively creative a tunnel or hole in just about any fence. Siberian Huskies are known for running away, curious Beagles are sneaky escapers, and even loyal Labs have been known to flee undetected. If you want to avoid the long hours of searching and driving slowly up and down the streets of your neighborhood calling “Come here, Blue,” then review the tips below.
- Keep the pet inside. This is an obvious first step, but one that is often overlooked. Staying indoors is not only necessary to keep your pet from running away, but also will protect them from potential predators. Depending on where you live, there may be threatening animals that should give you cause to worry about the safety of your pet. Florida-dwellers have to deal with prowling alligators; Colorado natives might be wary of mountain lions; while even city-dwelling Californians have to be on the lookout for hungry coyotes. It’s better to be safe than sorry; so don’t let your pooch past the porch!
- Fortify the fence. If you do have an outside pet that prefers to romp in the yard, make sure your dog is securely protected with a strong fence. If he is a breed that likes to jump or dig (here’s looking at you Malamutes and Huskies) consider planting some bushes around the fence to keep the dog from destructive habits. Inspect the perimeters of the fence to ensure there no holes your pup could enlarge, or weak areas he might slip through.
- Neuter your dog. Help curb their desire to sneak away by removing one major motivator: the reproductive system. Male dogs will be tempted to run off if they are trying to find a mate, so by removing this inclination, you will help your dog remain calm and cozy at home with you.
- Train your dog to wait before you give him permission to go outside. Here is yet another reason why obedience training is advantageous to all. If you teach your dog to sit and stay on your command, then not only will he be more pleasant to live with, but he will also wait inside with you instead of racing outside anytime the door is left open, thereby subjecting himself to the hazards of a busy street.
- Never punish your dog when he returns home. If the dig does get out, always call him back cheerfully, with treats to offer. When he arrives, celebrate with encouragement, petting and yummy morsels. Pets respond best to reward-based training and positive reinforcement; you want him to associate coming home with happiness and fun, not fear, punishment or dread.
- Keep them occupied. Love your puppy, and play with him often! A joyful home life will discourage any discontent from festering in your pup. Provide the dog plenty of toys that will keep his focus and attention. Some dog owners freeze treats in blocks of ice, and then let the dogs lick the ice as it melts, while they wait for the treat to slowly surface. Others give the dogs distraction toys that hide treats the dogs need to chew through to find, or play games with them to keep their minds active. By cultivating a thriving home life, your dog will be less interested in the outside world when they have fun times at home.
Preparing for the worst
In case your dog does happen to escape, make sure he is prepared in advance so that you will have an easier time tracking him and bringing him back.
- Get your dog a collar. Though this should go without saying, many owners skip buying the classic ID collar. When you own a pet, for his safety, you must put a collar on him that identifies the dog’s name, your name and the contact information. This will help anyone who finds your dog, get into contact with you, should he get out.
- Microchip your pup. In addition to the ID collar, some owners choose to include a small tracking device imbedded in the collar. Other dog owners recommend having the dog microchipped, so that no matter where he escapes, you will always be able to find him!